For many women and their partners, the experience of miscarriage is especially difficult due to the "invisibility" of their loss. Even when surrounded by well-meaning loved ones, a woman who has experienced miscarriage can feel isolated, as well as angry and confused.
Therapy provides a platform for exploring these and other emotions in a supportive, entirely open space. Here’s what to know about the complexities of emotions, as well as how counseling can provide support in the wake of a miscarriage.
How common is miscarriage?
Miscarriage is highly common, with studies revealing that anywhere from 10 to 25% of recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.
Symptoms and emotions after miscarriage
Emotions that may be present after miscarriage include:
More serious emotional complications after miscarriage should be treated
A clinical depression is not an expected or "normal" part of a woman's grieving, and should be treated as soon as symptoms arise!
If you experience the following, know that these are serious concerns and should be evaluated by a physician or nurse-practitioner.
Difficulties with sleep
Difficulties with appetite
Difficulties with motivation
Thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation
You may experience unexpected triggers after miscarriage, too
Triggers such as seeing pregnant women, infants, or baby items may call up intense feeling. Unanticipated questions such as "How is your pregnancy going?' may catch a woman off-guard, and she may be unprepared to respond.
Working with a therapist can help women wade through these emotions and everyday stressors in an open, supportive way.
Often, medication and psychological support can be crucial tools in helping a woman on her journey to recovery.
What to do if you’re experiencing emotional complications after a miscarriage
See a therapist to help you work through your emotions, and learn how to cope in a way that both honors the process and your loss.
This is especially important where unacknowledged guilt may feel shameful and need to be hidden.
Therapy types for miscarriage counseling
Individual therapy for miscarriage counseling
Therapists differ in their approaches to miscarriage counseling. Some common treatments include:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Therapy for couples after miscarriage
Couples counseling may prove especially beneficial after a miscarriage. It provides a space where couples can reconnect, and identify opportunities for mutual support and connection.
Therapy for emotional complications
For women who were experiencing an emotionally complicated pregnancy, therapy can help you release self-judgment, guilt, and shame.
Consider miscarriage after infertility treatment, for example. This posits an especially difficult scenario. The intensity and focus of achieving a pregnancy often after months or years of interventions may be especially difficult after having been one of the central preoccupations of a woman's daily life.
For women and men who use a gestational carrier to achieve parenthood, a miscarriage can be complicated by the carrier's own experience being intertwined with that of the biological parent (s.) Therapy can help you work through anger or extra grief.
In other cases, too, where the mother is ambivalent about her pregnancy, or where there is an anomaly with the fetus, there may be a mixed range of feelings which may include relief.
How to find a therapist for miscarriage
Considerations in choosing a therapist should include:
Verifying the licensing credentials of the provider
His or her experience in treating pregnancy-related concerns
A sense of compassion and ability to explore a wide range of feelings around loss
Mindfulness training (and other meditation techniques), which may help keep you grounded and minimize catastrophic thoughts and feelings
If you're planning another pregnancy, it can be helpful to share with your therapist
Pregnancy following miscarriage can stir up significant anxiety, with some women feeling hyper-vigilant and preoccupied with fears of another loss. Talking with a midwife or obstetrician about these concerns can help a woman gain perspective on her experience, and could encourage a discussion about how she can be best reassured during the course of her pregnancy.
Seeking medication? Look for a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner
Psychiatrists with special training in reproductive mental health are knowledgeable about the hormonal and physiological changes following miscarriage, and can give careful consideration to medications which might support a woman's coping.
Find a miscarriage counselor near you
Ready to look for support? Find therapists who specialize in women’s mental health (and, specifically, have perinatal expertise) near you on Zencare. You can filter by location and availability, plus cost and insurance, then watch introductory videos of each therapist and book a free assessment call directly from the site:
About the contributor
Teresa Spillane, PsyD
Dr. Teresa Spillane is a psychologist in Boston, MA specializing in perinatal mental health, postpartum adjustment, physician mental health, college mental health, and psycho-oncology. She utilizes psychodynamic therapy to give her clients a flexible, eclectic, and productive approach to mental health.